More challenges than just "Long Range"... The "Keyhole Shot"

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by WildRose, Jan 1, 2013.

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  1. WildRose

    WildRose Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2011
    The weather here has been really right to get the deer moving the last ten days or so and I've been itching to get out and get some new rifles broken in and to get the first kill on them.

    One of them is my new Win Mod 70 Extreme Weather SF in 300wm.

    To be honest I was a bit disappointed in the rifle when I got it in because I was expecting a heavier profile barrel. This one is I think about the same taper as their featherweight and I was expecting something closer to a Sendero Taper since a Buddy of mine who sells guns told me they had something close to the Coyote Outback barrels which are a light varmint contour.

    Well I got this 7lbs wonder out, sighted it in with some 180gr loads I have which are pretty hot and to tell you the truth it beat the snot out of me. Didn't hurt me any but the muzzle flip is so bad on it, it literally knocked my hat off on most of the shots and I had to use a spotter to tell me where my hits were trying it at various ranges from 450-750 on rocks.

    It did shoot awfully well though and once I tried some 165gr that were not so hot it was more tolerable.

    This after breaking in the STW earlier this week, today was the EW's turn.

    Got out early, froze my butt off, not terribly cold, in the mid twenties, but the wind was gusting from 14-22mph and shifting badly from due north to NNE back to NNW and then back to due north it seemed with every gust.

    Got tired of that pretty quickly so about 8:30 I get in the truck and decide to just drive around and look at a few places figuring maybe I'd get a chance to pop a coyote, but no luck.

    Now it's starting to spit a bit of snow and really hard sleet so I decide maybe the place to be was home snuggled up with the wife and I start driving out.

    Well something catches my eye and I stop but it's 450yds or so through a bunch of trees close to me, and more on the far side so I cant' really pick out what it is. Well I move the truck back and forth a time or two looking for a hole thorough the trees where I could see well and sure enough it's a big fat doe.

    I start trying to do the math in my head because this is a real challenge with the conditions and all and I still cant' quite get a clear picture in my mind of the full flight of the bullet that doesn't include a few mesquite branches.

    If you look at the first picture here this is what I was looking at, pardon the photography skill or lack thereof. If you look at the big U shaped branch which is about 15yds from me and go up to about dead center in the photograph a couple of feet above the U you'll see about a 9" hole. 450yds plus away, there's more trees and the doe is standing just beyond them and I see maybe a 12" window through them which lines up with where I'm at along with the keyhole on my side.

    The wind is the real issue here. I'm shooting roughly north north east so when the wind is about a quarter value and switches to as much as but if I catch the gust just wrong I could easy have a full value wind when in swings around the WNW.

    Fortunately the girl is watching something off to the North frozen so I've got time to think this all through and decide I'll just figure on the quarter value wind, wait for the WnW to wane and just as I see the grass across the draw (deep draw about 200yds) out start blowing my way I'll pull the trigger.

    I was patient long enough, about 45 seconds and as soon as I saw the tips of the grass straighten I got ready, and just then they shift and start to lean my way. This has me at about a 0 value wind so I let it fly.

    Fortunately the 165's are rocking along and I see what was apparently a solid hit, right at my aim point which had to be a bout 8" further back from the withers than I'd like but it was solid and high and she went straight down and down hard.

    I allowed 4.5 MOA for the drop and it appears I was just about dead on because the little SST perfectly transected the spine and utterly destroyed the lungs and it was obvious she never even twitched.

    I was able to get the range finder out and move a bit and came up with 478yds. Not a long shot by any measure but under the conditions we had, and having to make the "Keyhole Shot", I was pretty happy with the results since this was the first shot fired from the new rifle on anything other than rocks and paper and it's not even properly broken in yet.

    The keys to making this shot successfully?

    First being able to see in my mind's eye the full flight and arc of the bullet. It's easy to get one dimensional in our thinking on shots but we have to remember we're not shooting laser beams and bullets travel in an arc. That's what made it difficult for me to pick the perfect keyhole since the first five or six shooting lanes I looked at all had tree limbs I thought would be in the path of the bullet track.

    Patience. Waiting for the wind to lay and shift. Had I been fighting a full value 14-20mph wind the shot would have been all but impossible.

    Timing. Ensuring I pulled the trigger at the exact moment I could see the favorable shift in the wind, not where I was, but on the far end and mid flight of the bullet track. A little bit of wind close isnt' going to make much difference. A little bit of error in my timing/wind read along the latter 2/3 of the bullet track and I'd have seen exploding limbs and a doe running off.

    The best part of the hunt actually came after I had her cleaned up and loaded. I just happened to glance at a ridge/tree line almost due west of me and spotted a larger herd (9 does and one really nice buck) working that edge.

    Figuring the range at over 800yds, with the wind doing what it was there was no possibility of a decent shot opportunity so I bugged out as quickly as my fat --- and bad knees would allow and closed it down to around 500yds.

    I worked myself into a pretty good shooting position just in time to see the big buck take one of does off into the brush, but I got to sit there and for the next half hour or so watch the rest of the heard play grab ---, eat, and finally pass within about 40yds of me and never even notice I was there.

    The buck and his new GF however stayed on my property and I think I know where they probably spent the night so I'll be back out looking in the morning.

    I hope the above helps some of you new guys in the future should a similar opportunity arise for you. All BS aside this is a very challenging shot to make and you have to really figure everything closely to have a chance at success.

    A little dumb blind luck never hurts either, especially in the wind since there were over a dozen trees/limbs along the flight path of the bullet so any error on my part and I was outta luck.

    Like they say, "I'd rather be lucky than good" because no matter how good you are if luck's not with you on a shot like this you're eating bark soup for dinner.

    Attached Files:

  2. T3-OleMan

    T3-OleMan Well-Known Member

    Jan 3, 2009
    Nice. You getting as bad as Jeff...i e... never missing. Congrats.gun)
  3. WildRose

    WildRose Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2011
    LOL hell when Jim was up the other day I told him he was four hours late. He asked "Why?" and I Said, "Because you could have laughed till you peed yourself watching me miss the same coyote on three consecutive shots!

    I'd forgotten to to check my zero when I switched to a box of 20 plus yer old .220 swift reloads from what I'd been shooting and shot right over the little $%)_*$%) once at two hundred again at about four and when he stopped to laugh at me at about five hundred.

    I got him the next morning though.gun)
  4. toddc

    toddc Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2005
    You shot thru that pile o lumber? Wow thats a shot even at 10 yds.

    Ive shot a few with a rifle I couldnt even see clearly but knew the bullet would fly over the interveening grass and drop right in there. That was grass though not a redwood!

    My fav bow stand you cant actually get a clear shot on the trail. You are down below a bunch of little bluestem and the deer are usually about 50yds and they really cant see you. You can see them but just outlines really. Pull for a 50 yd shot tho and the arrow will arc right over the grass and hit as pretty as you please. Kinda cool to watch.
  5. WildRose

    WildRose Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2011
    I shot a bow a LOT as a kid. My longest ever kill was a prairie dog at 48 paces with an old Bear Super Kodiak II when I was in college though.

    Being as my original MOS was mortars I was a natural fit for long range bow hunting but my shoulder problems cut that short HA!

    I wish I was better with the camera. There's a nice little clear "Keyhole" I was shooting through all the way but I just can't manage to get a shot any better than that one.

    I grew up shooting here in the Texas Mesquite country hunting deer and was taught early by my dad's best friend how to figure those shots. They are really hard to see until someone takes the time to explain it and demonstrate it and with how the hunt went this morning I figured it'd be a good story to share here since I'd never seen anyone else talk about them in depth.

    People for some reason imagine Texas as this wide open flat land with nothing but grass for miles.

    I think that comes from driving across the Panhandle on I-40. There's not a natural tree up on the Llano Estacado and it IS that flat! Of course that's less than 20% of the state.
  6. RMulhern

    RMulhern Well-Known Member

    Jan 2, 2003
    My ---!

    "Extreme Weather SF"

    More hodge-podge BS!!
  7. Len Backus

    Len Backus Administrator Staff Member

    May 2, 2001
    Language, guys
  8. WildRose

    WildRose Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2011
    Ray I'm not sure exactly what your issue is but I'm sure that Winchester's marketing dept would love to hear your ideas about what to call their next stainless, synthetic, fluted barrel model so feel free to contact them.